Friday the 13th is an unlucky day if you’re superstitious. And in case you haven’t noticed, it’s here! But we like to think we are people who see the glass as half-full. We prefer to look at the doomed day as an opportunity to reflect upon some unexpected nuggets of—you guessed it—real estate wisdom.
To prove that valuable real estate knowledge truly can be found anywhere, we’ve turned to Jason Voorhees from “Friday the 13th” and (spoiler alert!) his nutty, murderous mother for inspiration. The hockey mask–wearing horror icon is an unlikely choice, but no one personifies the dreaded date better than the fictional fright master. And, as it turns out, there are some helpful housing lessons buried deep within the horror franchise.
After binge-watching the “Friday the 13th” series all the way through “Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives” (just a tiny glimpse of the sacrifices we make for you, dear reader), we realized Jason and a whole lot of dim-witted camp counselors can teach us plenty about buying a home.
So join us as we head back to Crystal Lake, NJ, for a few (creepy) lessons learned … the hard way.
Lesson No. 1: Always talk to the neighbors
If just a single camp counselor in 30 years had listened to one of the eager-to-blab neighbors, the “Friday the 13th” franchise wouldn’t exist. Everyone seems to know something is wrong with the property at the lake. (Dozens of dead teenagers each summer could be the tipoff.) People at the diner, truck drivers, the town loon—everyone! And they’re more than happy to warn off newcomers.
It’s a pretty strong endorsement to listen to the locals when trying to nail down your housing needs.
No, you’re probably not looking at properties in towns with as sullied a reputation as Crystal Lake. But we still offer this as an example of how you can learn a ton from talking to the neighbors—and discover what the place is really like.
Whether it’s the fact that a crazed killer occasionally rises from the depths of the nearby lake, or a noxious odor wafts from a nearby sewage plant when the wind changes, checking in with potential neighbors can help you make a sound decision.
Lesson No. 2: Read the seller’s disclosure
OK, back to that spoiler alert from 1980: The whole “Friday the 13th” franchise hinges on the narrative that a young Jason drowned in a lake due to the negligence of some sex-crazed camp counselors—prompting mom to go on a murderous rampage for revenge. Could happen, right?
Death, murder, mayhem. These are all items that must appear on the seller’s disclosure in many states. And some states go further still. In Massachusetts, for example, sellers must report anything that has “psychologically impacted” the home—you know, like supposed hauntings or the sensation that you’re being stalked by a serial killer.
It doesn’t take a cinematic genius to see our plot twist coming: Simply read the seller’s disclosure to avoid an awful fate. Maybe you’ll learn that your potential home has a grisly, murderous history. Or maybe you’ll discover that the property is covered in mold. Either way, it’s scary, scary stuff you need to know about before you buy.
Lesson No. 3: Decide how much isolation you can handle
In its heyday, the town of Crystal Lake seemed to have been a quaint getaway—bustling during the summer with throngs of children, and morphing into a quiet and rustic retreat during the off-season. It had the potential to be a perfect spot for a vacation home.
But one look at the town we see on-screen should set off some warning bells. The boarded-up shop windows. The deserted streets. The four weird locals in the diner. The long, long drives required to get anywhere. No bus service! No phone service! This place just screams “isolated,” and we haven’t even thrown a crazed killer into the mix yet.
When you’re buying a property—seasonal or otherwise—look at the bigger picture. How far away are the nearest neighbors? Does the town have its own police and fire services? Will you have cell service in case of an emergency?
Keep in mind many properties in vacation destinations are only seasonally occupied. You might not have neighbors around when you need them. Weather conditions could also conspire against your being able to get to and from your home in the event of an emergency.
Take stock of the home’s surroundings and consider just how off the grid you want to be. If isolation is what you truly crave, Godspeed. But don’t say we never warned you! (Just like those weirdos in the diner.)
Lesson No. 4: Home inspections save lives
Call us conspiracy theorists, but we blame many of the murders in the original “Friday the 13th” on the lack of a proper home inspection.
The spotty electricity went out every time it rained (of course!), leaving camp counselors to rely on a generator several yards away in a barn. Every time Big Jason wanted to gouge or skewer a victim, all he had to do was cut off the generator.
If only a trusted home inspector had flagged the electrical problems and made sure the house had no issues in times of inclement weather!
Know this: Home inspectors suss out potential issues before they become flat-out problems. Talk to a home inspector about any issues that might turn into a home purchase deal breaker. It’s smart to get any potential frights out of the way early.
Lesson No. 5: Beef up your security before you settle in
Throughout just about all of the flicks (we’re happily ignoring “Jason X,” in which our antihero rampages in outer space), Mr. Hockey Mask outsmarts camp counselors through a series of calculated maneuvers, a little luck, and some seriously crappy or nonexistent security features.
Really—where were the locks in this place? Typically in the final scenes, a lone survivor is seen running from room to room, slamming doors behind her, trying to get away. But locks don’t seem to exist and doors seem to be made of corrugated cardboard, because the killer just keeps coming.
While odds are you won’t be stalked by a psychotic, immortal killing machine in your home, never overlook your security features. Change your locks as soon as you move in, and check all interior doors and windows for properly working latches and locks. If you do have a security system (and you should), don’t forget to try it out and ask your security technician everything about it. You’ll sleep more soundly.
You might want to avoid the lake, too!